Crispy Coconut Crusted Chicken Nuggets

I had planned on making some simple chicken meatballs with some paprika* I had on hand, but ultimately found myself messing around with tossing in some of my homemade coconut flour here and there… What I ended up with was surprisingly awesome. These are hands-down the juiciest chicken meatballs/nuggets I’ve ever eaten, having benefitted from the added boost of ingredients pureed into the raw chicken meat. I call this the “flavor-bomb”. The term for flavor-bombs in recipes came from me (from a few years back) researching what makes a basic pound cake taste delicious, and testing different variables of “flavor-bombs” for that consisted of yogurt, butter, honey and vanilla extract…

Anyway, the list of ingredients below may seem kind of daunting, but surprisingly they’re mostly my staple pantry items. It always surprises me how versatile these ingredients are and how quickly one adapts to comfortably using them in any given recipe. The intuitive relationship you build with your pantry is priceless.

* If you live in New York City, pay a visit to the Dual Specialty Store in the East VIllage. They have a humongous selection of spices at very affordable prices. That’s where I got my paprikas. (Bonus: They have an adorable store-cat that smells just as amazing as the shop itself)

INGREDIENTS:

MARINADE:
1 pound chicken thigh, boneless
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon white pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 cloves of garlic, minced

ADD INS:
1 small onion, chopped coarsely
1/4 cup coconut flour (homemade recipe here)

“FLAVOR-BOMB”:
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 small onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon curry powder (optional)
4 tablespoons coconut milk (homemade version here)

“BREADING”:
1 cup coconut flour (homemade recipe here)

     

MARINATE
1. Coarsely cut your chicken thighs up into small 1″ to 2″ inch piece and begin by marinating the meat either the evening before or for at least 3 hours before going through with the recipe. Chicken meat, whether its breast, wing or drumstick, can always benefit from having been marinated. Flavor absorbs better into the meat and the surface of the meat tends to caramelize better as well. I use a gallon ziplock bag because it’s easier to rub the marinade into the meat that way with less mess and more accuracy.

2. Transfer the marinated meat into the bowl of your food processor and grind until no big pieces remain. Set aside. (if it’s hot where you are and you’re worried about spoilage, you may move the entire bowl of your food processor into your fridge with the lid on until your “flavor-bomb” is ready.

     

MELT
2. Start by melting 1 teaspoon coconut oil in a small fry pan.

     

COOK THE FLAVOR BOMB
3. Toss in your minced onion and garlic and brown well in the coconut oil on medium high heat. When your onions are soft and translucent, add in the rest of the ingredients. (The onion I used was purple, therefore it’s a little pink there in the photo on the left.. looks like raw meat but it’s not!)

4. Using a spatula, keep stirring the mixture until all the coconut milk has been absorbed and you have a thick paste. Voila! This is what will contribute a lot of flavor and moisture to your nuggets!

     

PROCESS
5. Add your flavor-bomb into the chicken mixture and process until well combined.

     

THICKEN
6. Additionally, I added 1/4 cup of coconut flour to thicken the mixture so that I could shape them better. Remember, I’m using my homemade coconut flour, so how it compares to commercial coconut flour I’m not sure, but I’m almost certain it has a different degree of absorbance.

7. Begin by melting 2 teaspoons of coconut oil in a large frying pan. Once melted, tilt the pan around so that the oil covers the bottom completely. Turn off the heat. Alternatively, if you’d like to deep-fry these, you could start heating up whatever set-up you use to deep-fry.

     

SHAPE
8. Take 1 cup of homemade coconut flour and spread it in a shallow pan. I used my 9″ pie pan here. (The grain-size of my coconut flour is much larger than commercial brands, and it is also not as yellow because I dehydrate it slowly in a 170F degree oven instead of flash toasting like in commercial procedures)

9. Shape your nuggets. I used a tablespoon to gauge an even amount every time.

     

“BREAD”
10. Toss your nuggets around the coconut flour until evenly coated. I used a fork to gently turn and push them around.

     

FRY
11. Carefully fill the oiled fry pan with your nuggets, and turn the heat up onto medium-high. Fry for about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Turn and fry again for a minute or so. Continue doing this until it is browned on all sides. If I had knew I was making nuggets (and not meatballs) I would have definitely made flatter shapes to make it easier on myself in the frying process, such that I’d only have two sides to brown. Next time!

     

SERVE
12. Crispy on the outside, amazingly juicy and flavorful on the inside. Like no chicken nugget you can ever get from a drive-thru. Serve ‘em hot! They freeze fine but they definitely won’t have that crunchy exterior after doing so. Enjoy!

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20 comments

  1. lizazard

    I’m imagining these lightly coated in a tangy eel sauce covered with bonito flakes and a drizzle of mayo..takoyaki style! ;)

  2. I’m thinking Chipolte Mayo! Hey, I noticed that you have red onions in the processor w/the raw chicken in the first picture…is that the “Add-ins”? And if so is there coconut flour in there too? Sorry if I missed something.
    These look awesome…and not too difficult. I will be making them this week – thanks!

  3. Pingback: Homemade chicken nuggets | L.A. Paleo

  4. Connie

    These were ok, kind of dry most likely due to the fact that I used store bought coconut flour. They were better with a dipping sauce, I made the chipotle mayo from paleomg.com.

    • Thanks for the feedback! I agree that it may have been the commercial coconut flour.. I can’t help but use it my homemade version in larger quantities and a lot more often since I make so much of it every week. Sorry it didn’t turn out- But thanks for the sauce suggestion!!

  5. Hil

    Don’t use commercial coconut flour…doesn’t fry well and was dry. I only did one batch on the stove, but put the rest into muffin tins and cooked mini meatloaves:)

  6. Pingback: 25 of the Best Paleo Chicken Nuggets Recipes - My Natural Family

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